Most teachers stick to the basic hall pass: a yellow rectangle with the HHS logo and two blank spots for the teacher’s name and room number.

Others opt for a bit more personalization -- a lanyard looped through a hole punched out, perhaps -- and a few take customization further than the rest with some rather 

unconventional hall passes.

In the past, Spanish teacher Jessica de Araujo Jorge made her students wear a sombrero to and from the bathroom, but stopped recently because of sanitation concerns: the students kept mentioning lice and saying people would set it down in the restroom. “Creeped out” by this, Jorge quickly moved the hat into retirement.

Like Jorge, criminal justice teacher Regan Cothron has a pass that is related to her subject. Her hall pass is an old, slightly bloody, dismembered hand -- well, a fake, slightly bloody, dismembered hand.

“I make students hold the hand if they take it,” she says, “but they do have an option. I do have the regular one.”

Hailey Gates, an agriculture teacher, gives students a pair of leather welding gloves she received in an FFA gift basket to accompany them to the restroom.

“I beg students not to wear the gloves while they’re in the bathroom, but with the way it smells, I’m convinced that people are wearing them,” she said. “It’s really gross, but I don’t have to use a hall pass because I’m a teacher.”

Amy Garrison, another agriculture teacher, has an iconic hall pass, despite only being in use since the beginning of this year. Dubbed “Hall Pass Malone,” her pass is a cardboard cutout of the famous rapper, Post Malone.

“I have students who like to get out of class and go visit friends, so as a deterrent for being out of class, I had this figure that FFA had used for the State Fair in the past,” she said. 

Originally the cutout was supposed to be a girl, but Garrison ran out of time to make it a girl, so she asked her son to paint and color in the hair. She was cleaning her room when she came out to check on his progress.

“I go and I look and my hall pass has barbed wire going across his head and he was going to do all of the tattoos. I said, ‘No, no, no, no.’”

Malone has trademark tattoos on his face, but Hall Pass Malone is slightly different. Instead of “stay away” or “always tired,” Hall Pass Malone has “stay in class,” on his mug.

“Hall Pass Malone prefers to stay in class,” Garrison says, “but he’ll take a field trip if students don’t use the seven minutes in between classes wisely.”

Perhaps the most notorious distributor of strange hall passes at HHS, Dr. Jeffery Phillips, the band director, has had a couple interesting objects in the past. Although it is no longer in use, last year, a yellow rubber chicken served as a companion to and from bathrooms.

Its origins are a bit of a mystery.

“Last summer, I came in from band camp, and it was laying on my desk with a note on it saying: ‘From a former student; you can have this back.’ I don’t remember anyone ever taking it," Phillips said. "I don’t know who it came from, or what that cryptic message meant.”

Already off to a good start, the headless chicken began a series of modifications that would bring it to the fame it has today. At first, someone found the head of a doll and attached it to the neck; later on, someone brought in a small t-shirt for the chicken to wear. Other changes would come and go, including a cone hat and various facial hair drawn on in permanent marker.

Sadly, however, the hall pass was laid to rest after last year.

“It was completely demolished,” Phillips said. “For health reasons, it had to go in the trash.”

Now, a regular hall pass is used, but it has a “sarcastic message” written on the back, telling teachers to send the student to an assistant principal’s office after seven minutes has passed.

The strange chicken is still in the hearts of the band, however; a new, blue, rubber chicken has found its way to Phillips. He won’t let students use this one as a hall pass, however, because “it’s too good.”

It’s always nice to see creativity and originality in the classroom, and hall passes are just another outlet to show a teacher’s personality, just like classroom decor and motivational posters. Plus, they’re always good for a laugh. 

Story by Sara Amiss


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Dr. Phillip's famous chicken hall pass, and Mrs. Jorge’s old sombrero passes (Felix Florian, left, Daniel Silva, right)


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Stevie Carmen holding Mrs. Cothron's hall pass, and Mrs. Garrison's "Hall Pass Malone."

Sumner County attendance supervisor Melanie Webster was looking for a way to make school more fun. So, naturally, she turned to that item teens seem to enjoy more than anything else: their phones.

Webster’s idea was a selfie contest. She invited students across the county to take class selfies and submit them. She called it the “#getyourselfietoschool challenge.”

The contest started last year and was so successful that it is back for a second year. The deadline for this year’s submissions is the end of the day today (Sept. 20). All entries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 “Everybody loves to get their picture made, most of the time, and selfies are such a big thing,” she told The Ville News recently. “We thought ‘#getyourselfietoschool’ would be something fun that teachers and kids could do together.”

Last year’s overall winner was Melissa Skaggs’ 7th grade class at Station Camp Middle School. Using a little camera trickery, the photo shows Skaggs with her class in the palm of her hand and the slogan “Holding the Future.”

Prizes were also awarded for most creative and most encouraging selfies. All winning classes receive a $50 gift certificate.

Webster said she enjoys seeing the submissions roll in.

“It is so much fun … because they are really creative,” she said. “I am really excited for this year because they will probably be more creative.”

The contest does have a few restrictions. For one, all students must be present for the selfie along with the teacher. The selfie also must include the school's name and the teacher's name.

So get those phones out and start clicking.

Story by Lillian Woodward, Robin Sherill and Miranda Heatherly

A lot of really gross things happen in the bathroom, and vaping is one of them.

That’s a message behind the colorful, laminated signs that have been popping up around the HHS bathrooms this week.

“Crap belongs in the toilet, not in your lungs,” reads one in the girls’ bathroom in the English hall.

“You might as well flush your lungs while you’re at it,” proclaims another in the science hall restrooms.

The signs are the handiwork of school nurse Sue Buckberry.

“They went up yesterday,” she told The Ville News on Thursday (Sept. 19). “I wasn’t here when they went up, but a senior project put them up. I had her laminate them the day before and then I was going to have her hang them, but she went ahead and hung them already.”

There are a dozen signs in all – a dirty dozen - all in or near bathrooms, which is no coincidence.

“Most of the vaping happens in the bathrooms, so that’s why they are specifically targeted toward the bathroom area,” Buckberry explained.

The signs are from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is urging schools to help educate teens about the dangers of vaping.

“Research has told us that teens are either using e-cigarettes or faced with peer pressure to use a peer’s e-cigarette while they are in the school bathrooms,” she said. “It has gotten to be a very bad problem.”

Bad enough that HHS officials say there isn’t much they can do to stop it.

So far this year, only two students have been caught and suspended for using e-cigarettes on campus, said School Resource Officer Joseph Hutcherson.

Story by Owen Wilson and Topanga Horton

Few things are as closely connected to school as the textbook, those bowling ball-heavy bundles of paper and binding that contain just about all there is to know on a given subject.

And yet, like the chalkboard and the paper gradebook, textbooks appear to be on their way out.

“We’re moving away from textbooks since virtually 100 percent of people are online,” remarked Assistant Principal Ray Henson, adding that “hard copies of textbooks just cost a lot.”

Nowadays, students can access the same material online – at home and in school – without having to lug around the book, Henson said.

Several teachers seem to be on the same page, so to speak.

“I don’t use the textbooks. I use electronic resources,” said science teacher Ralph Gabriel.

Likewise, social studies teacher Samuel Gossett also said he relies on online materials, though he still uses a textbook some.

Not everyone is ready to see traditional textbooks go.

English teacher Ashley Jones estimates that she uses her 10th grade literature books, dictionry-thick tomes that weigh about 7 pounds apiece, a couple times a week.

“I think textbooks are helpful when we need short stories,” Jones said.

But even then, Jones said, she prefers to create her own questions and make copies of them instead of using the questions in the book.

“I typically print handouts or some type of worksheet every day,” she said.

Over in the Math Department, teacher Jennifer Kotler also likes the old standbys, and not because they make great door stoppers.

“Most students need to see visuals,” she said, and textbooks have the graphics all in one easy-to-find place.

And, Kotler added, math textbooks last a long time.

“Math doesn’t evolve like science or history,” she said.

Story by Chloe Tomassetti

After days of searching, we finally found them.

You might have noticed them, too, if you have first lunch. They sit around in a circle on the floor, nearly a dozen of them.

We call them the Beyblade Kids because they are bringing back an old favorite: Beyblades, the spinning top game that was all the rage back in the day.

“It was mostly for nostalgia, and last week I decided to bring my old Beyblades because I found them in storage,” explained junior Zander Coon, who along with sophomore Wyatt Rex helped start the revival in recent weeks. “That inspired me to go buy new Beyblade supplies at Walmart. We started playing Thursday, and honestly it was a lot of fun ‘letting it rip.’”

First released in Japan in 1999, Beyblades have been available in the U.S. since the early 2000s, according to Wikipedia. The tops can be customized with interchangeable parts, and players use them to “battle” each other, similar to the Battling Tops game that has been around since the 1960s.

There are many different types of Beyblades, and they can range in cost from $10 to $35.

 “The Japanese brand is the best,” Coon said. “It’s where all the originals come from.”

The tops generally fall into one of four categories: defense, attack, stamina and balance.

 “The attack types tend to have a flatter, hollow tip and have a jagged wheel. They move around a lot but have low stamina,” Coon said. “The defense types tend to have a rounded tip and have a more rounded, smoother edge. They tend to stay in the middle of the arena.

“Stamina types can have a rounder wheel than defense types, but they are very prone to bursting,” he added. “They are better for longer battles. Balance types are well rounded and last a bit longer than other Beyblades.”

There you have it. Now dig up those old Beyblades and let it rip!

Story by Corrine Mitchener and Zach Pearson

Do you love to travel? HHS is planning two school trips - one to Ireland and Scotland in 2020, and the other on a European Carousel in 2021 - and there’s still time to join.

The Ireland/Scotland trip, which will be over spring break, allows students to spend three days in each country, according science teacher Lynne Martin, one of three trip coordinators.  

Trip highlights in Ireland include the cities of Belfast and Dublin, a street graffiti tour, The Irish Emigration Museum, The Titanic Museum, and a St. Patrick's Day celebration in Ireland.  From Ireland, travelers will journey to Scotland to visit Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as go on a ghost tour, visit castles and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Scotland. 

The cost for the Ireland/Scotland trip is approximately $3,200 per student.  The deadline to sign up is before Thanksgiving break.    

The European Carousel tour will be for two weeks over summer break of 2021.  This trip consists of seven countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and England.  Travelers will be able to ride a gondola in Venice, tour the Swiss Alps, experience the breathtaking night lights of Paris on a river tour, ride the Eurostar, and visit Windsor Castle in London, to name a few attractions.  

 “It is truly a whirlwind; it’s a whirlwind tour of Europe,” Martin said. “It will give you a great introduction to everything.  The purpose is to inspire you to go back.” 

The cost of the European Carousel is $5,085 per student.  The deadline to sign up is around spring break of 2021.  

Martin believes students benefit from the experiences of international travel.

“We live in a global society, and I think that people need to know that there are a lot of different cultures out there,” she said.

Martin added, “We now have international companies, and you might have the opportunity in the workforce to go to another country, and so now you’ll have a little bit of experience of what a different culture is like.”  

Jatu Barker, a junior who plans to take the European Carousel tour, said she wanted to go on this trip because “Europe is on my bucket list for a place that I’d like to travel to, so it really caught my eye.” 

Barker encourages others to go as well.  “I would say not to focus on the price but think about all the good memories, great friends and adventures you’re going to make while traveling.  It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime!”    

The trips are coordinated through EF Tours, a travel company HHS has used for several years.  The price to travel with EF includes major aspects of travel, such as transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.   According to Martin, EF Tours also allows one teacher to travel as a chaperone for free for every six students attending.   

Anyone interested in the tours can see Martin in Room 219, math teacher Lesley Fisher in Room 244 or English teacher Rebecca Bene in Room 206.  These teachers are also available through their Sumner County emails.

Story by Bridget Bireley    

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